Updated: November 28, 2013 08:02 PM GMT
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, president of the German bishops’ conference (picture: AP)
Church officials in Germany have defended plans by the country’s bishops’ conference to allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, insisting they have the Pope’s endorsement.
Robert Eberle, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Freiburg: “We already have our own guidelines, and the Pope has now clearly signaled that certain things can be decided locally.
“We’re not the only archdiocese seeking helpful solutions to this problem, and we’ve had positive reactions from other dioceses in Germany and abroad, assuring us they already practice what’s written in our guidelines.”
Mr Eberle’s comments followed the disclosure by Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart on November 23 that the bishops’ would adopt proposals on reinstating divorced and remarried parishioners as full members of the Church during their plenary in March.
In an interview with Catholic News Service, Mr Eberle said “many points” in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) suggested the German Church was “moving in the right way” in its attitude toward remarried Catholics.
Uwe Renz, spokesman in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, also defended the bishops’ stance. He said he believed the bishops were acting “in the spirit of the Pope’s teaching.”
“Our own dialogue process has shown this is a major issue for both lay Catholics and priests,” Mr Renz said.
“Pope Francis has called on bishops to exercise a wise and realistic pastoral discernment on such problems, and our bishops want divorced and remarried Catholics to be a full part of the church community, with full rights.”
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reaffirmed in October Church teaching that prohibits divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving Communion without an annulment.
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